Source: thewillnigeria.com

Not only is it trending on some social media platforms, the question of how the All Progressives Congress (APC) is going to achieve the 'change' the party is promising is a topical issue.

  The subject is relevant because many Nigerians simply cannot reconcile some of the leading lights of the APC with the idea of change since they have been part of Nigeria's political landscape for too long to be chanting 'change' today.

Moreover, the Monday, February 10, 2014 'Hogwash!' advertorial published in some newspapers by the Atiku Media Office inadvertently confirmed what many suspected, which is that 'change' is just a slogan that has little to do with the reality in the APC.

  Although the advertorial set out to dispel what the media office described as a 'malicious report', it unwittingly revealed that a deal may have been sealed with the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, to cede the party's presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

  Whether this ultimately proves to be without basis is not the point.

  What is noteworthy is that this is the same sort of arrangement that once existed in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a now defunct party which forms the bedrock of the APC.

Setting aside the likely repetition of the old ACN scenario, there is a rather problematic image issue that dogs the APC.

  Even objective analysts cannot deny that the APC has somehow managed to put on the toga of a particular religion.

  This, naturally, cannot be in the party's favour considering the multi-religious composition of the Nigerian nation.

  And while one is unwilling to accept that accentuating a preference for one religion over others might be a deliberate party policy, the truth is that a leading light of the APC, Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun, is doing everything within his considerable powers as a state chief executive to confirm that perception.

As a recent editorial in the Vanguard newspaper stated, 'No governor has promoted religion more than Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State.

  He is proud of his religion for which he gets a lot of bashing.

  In response, he has accorded recognition to the three religions that he considers the major ones- Christianity, Islam and traditional ways.

'  It is worrisome if the governor's recognition of these three religions does not in some way contravene Chapter I, Part II, Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution which states: 'The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.

' Moreover, the Vanguard editorial also related that, 'It is not unusual for prayers to be offered in the three religions at public events.

'  Regardless of whatever Aregbesola's intentions may have been, his overzealous engagement in matters with a religious tinge, including converting missionary schools to mixed schools, has left Osun reeling with sporadic outbreak of violence and seething with palpable tension.

  Indeed, in November 2013, a school principal was beaten to pulp on a matter related to religion.

As matters stand, even the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, has recently journeyed to Osogbo, the Osun State capital, to preside over a peace meeting between Aregbesola's government and the South West arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

And yet, there are still no guarantees that the intermittent violence that has broken out in Osun over matters of religion is now a thing of the past.

  Indeed, media reports have it that there is still tension in some parts of the state.

It is in the light of this disturbing scenario that one begins to wonder if this is the sort of 'change' the APC might be planning to impose on Nigeria if it is voted into power at the centre.

  And though one is unwilling to accept that a party that has garnered so much goodwill among Nigerians in the short time of its existence can be planning something so sinister, what are Nigerians to make of APC's chant of 'change' in the face of Aregbesola's example? Governor Aregbesola himself is well aware that all is not well in his domain.

  He is reported to have said: 'Yoruba people have a tradition of accommodation and inclusion; that is why our families are interwoven around all religions.

Some people, goaded from hell, however, are working to break our bond of unity by beating the drum of religious war.

They will fail and only they and their families will dance to that evil beat.

' Even if his choice of rather unstatesmanlike words can be excused, Aregbesola is being somewhat disingenuous by attempting to foist the cause of the clashes in his state on 'some people.

'  Who are these nebulous 'some people?' Is the governor claiming not to be aware that it is his stoking of religious tensions that has led to the violence in Osun?  As the Vanguard editorial concluded, 'Religion is being abused in Osun State - people now see religion in everything.

'  And no matter what sophistry Aregbesola may wield, he his squarely to blame.

  One can only pray that his APC will never have the opportunity to foist such manner of 'change' on the Nigerian nation.

Written By Kayode Ojo [email protected]

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